Pelvic organ prolapse (POP) affects millions of women, but many don’t understand what it is or seek treatment.
When pelvic floor muscles stretch and fail, the pelvic organs can drop and create pressure on the vaginal wall. In many cases, this is caused by vaginal deliveries or hysterectomies, but is also seen in patients with chronic constipation or chronic cough and those whose jobs require heavy lifting, as well as in extreme athletes.
A visit to a local urogynecologist can help diagnose POP and help patients find relief.
What are the symptoms?
- Vaginal pressure: 90 percent of patients describe feeling pressure in their pelvis or the sensation of tissue protruding through their vagina.
- Urinary issues: POP can cause incontinence or urinary retention.
- Back pain: Back and pelvic discomfort is reported by some patients.
- Sexual problems: POP can cause painful intercourse and in some cases, coital incontinence.
Non-surgical methods are always the first step and are available to all women. These include pelvic-floor physical therapy and pessaries, silicone devices that support the pelvic floor. “Eighty-eight percent of women do not perform pelvic floor exercises, or kegels, correctly and need coaching from a trained pelvic-floor physical therapist,” says Lauren Scott, MD, Assistant Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology. “While physical therapy and pessaries may not permanently reverse the prolapse, they can be very helpful in relieving the symptoms.”
Surgical treatment options for pelvic organ prolapse vary from restorative procedures in which the pelvic floor is reconstructed or lifted back up, to obliterative procedures that close the vagina.
Among restorative procedures are options that include using a patient’s own tissue to reinforce the pelvic floor or employing mesh to help. The procedure may be approached through the vagina, laparoscopically or robotically.
The route of surgery is something that will be based on individual anatomy, health and surgical history.
To learn more about POP symptoms and treatments, visit EVMS Urogynecology or make an appointment at any of our Southside or Peninsula locations by calling: 757.446.7979.